One key the Los Angeles Dodgers have prided themselves on in recent years is depth and versatility, and that has again been put to the test this season due to a number of key players missing time because of injuries.
The position player who has missed the most time is A.J. Pollock as he has been out since the end of April after undergoing surgery on his elbow to get rid of an infection. Rookie Alex Verdugo has done an admirable job filling in for Pollock while he has been out.
Although, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the expectation is that Pollock will regain his starting job when he is able to return, which could be sooner rather than later.
Just because Pollock is coming back, that doesn’t mean that Verdugo will head back to the bench though. Joc Pederson has been working at first base, a position he has never played before, and Roberts explained he could see some time there when Pollock returns to help alleviate a crowded outfield, via SportsNet LA:
“This year, obviously, we’re ramping it up. I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but I do see him play first base. Obviously, probably the first opportunity would be in more of a plus-minus game to break him in a little bit easier, a softer landing. You look out, A.J. coming back, to have Joc’s bat in there and Verdugo, guys like that, just to have that option makes us a better club. … He has a lot of intangibles to play the position — the instincts, the hands, a repeatable arm stroke. I think the thing is you’ve just got to understand the speed of the game, from the outfield to the infield, it’s a lot faster in the infield and that’s something you can’t replicate that much.”
What has allowed the Dodgers to potentially move Pederson into the infield do is the play of Max Muncy defensively at second base. With Corey Seager going down to injury and Chris Taylor and Kiké Hernandez both struggling at the plate, Muncy has seen increased time at second in recent weeks, and excelled defensively in addition to going on an offensive tear.
An easier solution than making Pederson learn a new position could have been to move Verdugo to right field and bring Cody Bellinger in to play his natural first base position. Bellinger has been the best defensive right fielder in all of baseball this season though, so it is understandable that they would want to keep him there.
If everything goes according to plan, then the Dodgers could potentially have an outfield of Verdugo, Pollock and Bellinger, with a Pederson and David Freese platoon at first base and Muncy at second base in the second half of the season.